OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – Over the weekend, friends and family paid tribute to a local theater legend by putting on a spectacular show.

Jim Hart was an icon in the Fox Valley performing arts community and impacted countless lives during his career. He passed away in January.

“He breathed the theater, everything for him was theater,” said his wife Pamela Hart. “He loved all the students and adults he got to know through community theater.”

His family said that Jim started theater in high school and that it changed his life.

“Him growing up he had a harder childhood so when he found theater it was just his home,” said his daughter Samantha Raspel.

He met his wife Pamela while they were both performing in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ in college. His passion for the performing arts rubbed off on all four children who all participated in it as well.

One of Hart’s biggest accomplishments was establishing JuBriCoSa Arts Academy (JuBriCoSa is a mashup of the first couple letters of their kids names) with his wife Pamela. The academy gave kids opportunities in the performing arts and Hart served as a teacher and mentor to hundreds of kids over the years.

He also established theater programs at Two Rivers High School, St. Mary’s Central High School (Neenah), Valley Christian School (Oshkosh), and Winneconne School District.

Pamela said that the goal is to instill self-confidence and responsibility into the students and to teach everybody to be kind to others.

“It wasn’t necessarily about sending them to Broadway, it was more about the opportunities that the kids would have to grow in theater,” said Pamela Hart.

Over the weekend, his family organized a show at the Grand in Oshkosh. It was a compilation of some of his favorite numbers from shows he performed in over the years. The performers were Jim’s former students and other people that he had performed with.

“It’s been humbling and challenging the last few months doing it while still going through that grieving process of him passing away in January,” said Raspel. “But it’s been incredible seeing people that I haven’t seen since I was very little.” 

His family titled the performance ‘Thanks for the Memories: A Tribute to Jim Hart.’ Between the different songs, several of Jim’s former students had a chance to say some kind words.

“Mr. Hart, thank you so much, I take the lessons you taught me into class each and every day, I love you and thank you,” said one former student who is now a teacher.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without him, so thank you for putting your trust and confidence in me,” said another former student. “I will miss you more than I know.” 

“He’d be proud, smiling ear to ear and so overwhelmed with happiness, he’d be proud of everybody here coming back and doing it (putting on this show),” said Raspel.